The one menu item that I hear about more than jambalaya, gumbo, po boys, or any other food from New Orleans is the beignet. It could be because I know many people with some serious sweet tooths, but I had this item as a high priority to consume on my trip. There were two places I knew I had to go and taste the sweetness of the cajun donut from: Cafe du Monde and Cafe Beignet.
Cafe du Monde
First thing’s first: This place is always packed. No matter which time of day you go, there will be a line, so be prepared. My recommendation is to just get your food to go; don’t wait for a table. You’re so close to Jackson Square that you could just find a nice bench seat there and enjoy your treats. You order them in packages of three (note: the take-out window only accepts cash!) and it is best consumed with cafe au lait, I am told (I’m not a coffee drinker).
The beignets themselves were incredibly thick! A much more cake-like consistency than I had imagined based on pictures I’ve seen. They were incredibly filling, too: One was more than enough for me. Coupled with the mountain of powdered sugar they put on top and it’s no wonder I couldn’t eat that much! I’m very happy I was able to eat the signature dish from this New Orleans establishment.
Up a couple blocks from Cafe du Monde is Cafe Beignet, with its beautiful courtyard populated by metal tables and statues of great jazz legends. The ambiance was amazing, and even though it was crowded as well, it was much easier to get a seat. I think the fact that we ate there after sunset helped with crowd control as well!
These beignets were very different from Cafe du Monde. Cafe Beignet’s beignets had a bit of a crust on the outside with a soft inside, almost like a bread. Not as intense as a baguette or French bread crust, but just slightly crispier than the dough it surrounded. Again, these were buried under an avalanche of powdered sugar. I found these to be much more enjoyable and I was even able to eat two!
Our hotel, the Renaissance Pere Marquette, also had beignets: full-size beignets, beignet bites, and an amazing beignet breakfast sandwich (sans powdered sugar) that were all delightful as well. Their beignets were more akin to Cafe Beignet: bread-like with a slightly more cooked outside. I would highly recommend the breakfast sandwich; such a delightful mix of slightly sweet and savory!
Overall, I really enjoyed the beignets that had the kind of crispier outside with the bread-like inside over the pancake-like ones. In my opinion, I really found Cafe Beignet to have the better beignets for my tastes, which I’m sure is sacrilege for many New Orleans natives and beignet aficionados alike. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with fried dough and piles of soft powdered sugar!